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Yes, Bob, it’s a toughie …

No sooner had yesterday’s lament about a non-existent anti-litter movement been posted when faithful reader Bob in Des Moines, Iowa shot me this response:

This is a tough one Dave…Hardly anyone wants to pick up other people’s stuff. There are those that pick up litter because it makes them feel good and it gives them a sense of purpose but the vast majority just don’t care. I see people in my neighborhood on trash day with litter laying beside their garbage containers and they won’t pick the stuff up to put it in the container and it lays there for a week or until I put it in their containers for them. HMMMM…we could spend some money and make tshirts or trash bags but that is just adding to the problem.

I suppose one reason our streets and paths look as they do (disheveled, messy, junky, cluttered, et al) is because people are, as Bob infers, ambivalent about what lies outside the perimeter of their property. I know none of this for certain so this viewpoint is merely an educated guess that Bob and I seem to share.

Bob has a valid point. People don't care or they would take some sort of action. I don't know how to sway people in that direction other than to keep doing what me and others are doing - picking up after others.

Bob has a valid point. People don’t care or they would take some sort of action. I don’t know how to sway people in that direction other than to keep doing what me and others are doing – picking up after others.

Yet there are both visual and reclaimable resource components to litter; the sight of fast food containers, bottles and cans and other junk by the literal ton is tough for anyone to see. I say ‘ton’ because even a conservative guess at the amount of recyclables I’ve hauled to the curb after dumping out untold bags of crap out on my driveway as photographic evidence of slobbery as well as sorting for ‘reclamation’ is easily more than 3,000 lbs. (My computation is 2.5 lbs. per day x 300 days. And I’m intentionally shorting the volume and the days walked.) A ton and a half is a lot of crap yanked from the length of one 2.5 mile environment.

So the cynic in me – and I suspect in Bob, too – would wonder ‘What if even 5% of the populace would join ranks with and remove even one-two pieces of litter/junk per day?’ Now that would really be something.

As for Bob’s suggestion about a t-shirt or trash bags, I’ll be all over that. Stay tuned.

About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I was a writer by trade so one would think letters would come easily for me. It is so now, but wasn't always that way. Indeed, the first letter was written the Monday after Ellen started her freshman year in college. For years I've wondered - with no good answers - why I swiveled my office chair toward my computer screen to fire up a word processing document for that first letter. I just don't know. I just did. Perhaps it was the angst of separation or wanting to say things that had gone unsaid at that moment when we parted ways in front of her college dormitory. What was a one-off became habitual. When her brother Reid enrolled in the same college, his name was added to the salutation line. They were kids then and are adults now. No matter. The letter writing habit remains so today. I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I'm well away from where they live and don't see them nearly as often as I'd like. That's why letters, at least to me, fill the void of distance. The pages give me something to say and the space to say it. There is no assurance they read the letters; indeed, I have never asked if they do so. With the pace of their busy lives who could blame them for letting a letter sit unopened? Over time, it has dawned on me that the letters are both communicative - and cathartic. By nature, letters are about the writer; the writer can only write about their situation. Perhaps that is as it should be. It's all about the here and now from one person's perspective.

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